iPad launch — Walmart selling device from midnight; Harrods announces new Apple store opening Friday

Friday arrives earlier in many countries around the world than it does in the US, so even now there’ll be consumers in Australia and Japan, for example, tearing the packaging off their new iPad to find out if Apple’s latest iteration of its popular tablet device lives up to the hype.

As we reported on Wednesday, consumers lining up outside Apple stores in the US will have to wait till Friday 8am to get their hands on the new iPad, although news emerged today of one retail giant making it available even earlier – at midnight.

According to a number of news outlets, including Daily Tech, some Walmart stores will be selling the new device from 12.01am Friday. “A limited supply of the new iPad will be available at your local 24-hour Walmart,“ a Walmart representative wrote in an email. “Other retailers’ doors don’t open until 8am local time, so you can get to work on time and beat the rush by coming to Walmart.”

A spokesperson for the retailer told Cnet the availability of Apple’s new tablet will vary by store, though it will only be offering the 16GB Wi-Fi model in black or white for $499 — at least for now.

Meanwhile, as expected, Harrods department store in London announced on Thursday that it’ll be opening a new technology section Friday — complete with an Apple store. “Come and get your iPad from 10am,” the department store tweeted — we assume it’s talking about the new iPad and not the 16GB iPad 2 which Apple will contine to sell.

The 163-year-old department store, one of the most famous in the world, could turn out to be a very lucrative location for Apple, with thousands of well-heeled shoppers on the hunt for luxury goods passing through its doors every day.

Apple’s much-anticipated new iPad comes with a faster processor, better camera, 4G LTE connectivity and the high-resolution Retina display. Prices for the various versions range from $499 to $829.